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الأربعاء، 20 نوفمبر 2013

Israel detains Palestinian leftist without trial

Israel detains Palestinian leftist without trial

Patrick O. Strickland

Suha Barghouti and Ahmad Qatamesh (photo courtesy of Suha Barghouti)

Detained without trial since his arrest in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in April 2011, supporters of a left-wing Palestinian writer and academic are nevertheless hopeful that he will be freed next month.
Ahmad Qatamesh has not been charged with a crime, but Israel has repeatedly renewed his detention orders. This has drawn criticism from human rights groups including Amnesty International, which has called the 62-year-old a prisoner of conscience.
"My husband has now spent a total of nine years in jail without ever being given a single charge," said Suha Barghouti, Qatamesh�s wife. "Every lawyer I�ve ever talked to about his case cannot see any law he�s broken."
Between 1992 and 1998, Qatamesh was the Palestinian political prisoner held for the longest time ever under administrative detention by Israel. Under administrative detention orders, a detainee can be indefinitely held without charge or trial. No other Palestinian prisoner has spent as much time behind Israeli bars without eventually being charged, according to his wife.
But now he has been detained with a new series of administrative detention orders. The latest was issued in August and expires on 28 December.
Barghouti said that at a military court hearing in late August ahead of the latest renewal, "the Israeli judge accepted Ahmad�s release once the administrative detention order expired because he wasn�t convinced he is a threat."
Israel�s military intelligence won an appeal, and as a result, Qatamesh�s administrative detention was extended for the seventh consecutive period of six months. If they decide to file another appeal, the judge ruled that Israel�s intelligence must provide new evidence that Qatamesh is still involved in activities deemed illegal by Israel.
Barghouti described living in a state of uncertainty, never knowing if her husband will actually be sent home after an order expires. "They can renew it at any time, and sometimes they wait til the last minute," she said.
The Qatamesh family�s concerns have only been deepened by reports that his health is deteriorating rapidly as he is transferred from prison to prison but never allowed proper medical treatment. Because Qatamesh is not permitted to talk to his family via telephone, Barghouti is fearful.


Barghouti recently learned that the Israel Prison Service � regularly accused of systematic and far-reaching human rights violations � intends to transfer her husband from Ramon Prison in the Naqab (Negev) region to Megiddo prison, located in the north of present-day Israel.
"The conditions inside Megiddo are very, very bad," Barghouti explained. In February, Arafat Jaradat, who was beaten during his arrest and subsequently tortured during interrogation, died in a special segment of Megiddo used by Israel�s Shin Bet intelligence agency while being held without charge.
Barghouti added, "We have a question: why�s he even being transferred? Is it to intentionally hurt his health? Other prisoners have told us, and human rights groups, that he is losing consciousness a lot."
In addition to regularly fainting, Qatamesh "suffers from high blood pressure. Together they are making his health much worse," Barghouti said.
She believes that her husband�s present health problems likely stem from the extensive torture he endured during his six-year detention in the 1990s; in his prison memoirs I Shall Not Wear Your Tarboush, Qatamesh describes in detail the torture and abuse he endured for more than 100 days. Because he often loses consciousness suddenly and for hours at a time, "he needs to see a serious head specialist, but as far as we know, he�s only being given Tylenol and [other] painkillers," Barghouti said.
In response to Israel�s plans to transfer Qatamesh, the Palestinian prisoners� rights group Addameer filed a request that he instead be moved to Ofer military prison near Ramallah. The request was based on the grounds that Qatamesh�s court hearings are held there and family visits would be more accessible. The Israel Prison Service has yet to respond.
"Maybe he�s already been transferred," Barghouti said. "Since Israel gives very little information to prisoners� families, we have no way of knowing."


Qatamesh�s family, like those of all Palestinian political prisoners, are forced to deal with incessant, arbitrary barriers in order to visit their loved ones.
"I�m only permitted to visit him once every six or eight months," Barghouti said. Only Qatamesh�s wife, daughter and sister have been allowed to visit. His brothers have been denied visitation permits time and time again.
Barghouti explained that she has been denied entry into Israel or passage at checkpoints on several occasions, despite having a valid permit from Israeli authorities. "Because of this, I�ve only seen him three times in the last two and a half years," she said, adding that the most recent visit took place in September.
Qatemesh�s only child, Hanin, began visiting her father in prison during his first detainment, when she was just three years old. Twenty years later, she is once more only able to see him on rare occasions.
Hanin must wake up at 5:00am and travel all the way from Ramallah to Ramon, stopping and waiting for undetermined periods at the numerous Israeli military checkpoints along the way. Her mother explains that she usually doesn�t get home until 8:00pm at the earliest � all for a 45-minute conversation in which she can only see her father through a glass window and speak to him via telephone.
"It�s not easy. Family visits are very complicated," said Barghouti, adding that the "conversation is difficult because you know someone is listening, that it�s being monitored."
She also described the degrading and arbitrary security checks imposed on visiting relatives: "Last time the soldiers made me take off my bra before I entered. There are so many procedures. It�s humiliating, it�s difficult, and it takes a toll on a family�s soul."


Following his first arrest in 1992, a judge ordered that Qatamesh be released for lack of evidence against him.
Yet he was detained on administrative detention orders until 1998, the longest any Palestinian political prisoner has been held without trial. He was then part of a prisoner release agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Israel had accused him of being a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist political party and resistance group banned by Israel, though never charged him or brought forth evidence.
Although Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada that Qatamesh hasn�t had ties to the PFLP since his 1998 release, Israel made the same accusation to justify his 2011 arrest � though without giving any evidence.
In the years following his release, Qatamesh repeatedly applied for permits to travel abroad, but was always denied. Israeli military decrees also banned him from entering occupied East Jerusalem or present-day Israel. "My husband hasn�t seen Jerusalem in over thirty years," Barghouti said.
During the 2011 arrest, Israeli occupation soldiers invaded Qatamesh�s home and held his family hostage at gunpoint until they were able to locate him at a relative�s house and arrest him.
"They pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house. My 14-year-old cousin, Nai, and 69-year-old aunt were sleeping inside," Hanin, just 22 years old at the time, described in an article she wrote for the The Electronic Intifada.

No support

Barghouti said her husband has been targeted for no other reason than "his ideas, writings and lectures given across the West Bank." Qatamesh has also been repeatedly interrogated about his PhD dissertation research on popular Palestinian resistance.
Amnesty International agrees, stating that "Qatamesh is a political prisoner who is being detained solely for expressing nonviolent political beliefs," and calls for his release.
The prisoner rights group Addameer, where Barghouti is a board member, has helped her keep her husband�s freedom campaign alive. A lawyer from the Palestinian Authority-backed Palestinian Prisoners Club has also helped.
Qatamesh has also received hundreds of support letters from academics across the world. Additionally, hundreds of letters have been mailed to the Israeli government demanding his freedom, said Barghouti.
The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, has failed to match these efforts, offering Qatamesh support only "from individuals in the government who know and respect him, but not as our representative authority," Barghouti said. "No, they didn�t do anything � I�ve seen nothing from them."
Although the PA struck a deal with Israel to bring home a total of 104 long-term Palestinian political prisoners � 52 of whom have already been released � there are still 5,046 Palestinians from present-day Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip behind Israeli bars, according to Addameer�s latest statistics.

Administrative detention spikes

Qatamesh is in the company of another 134 administrative detainees held by Israel without charge on "secret evidence," according to Addameer.
International and Palestinian human rights organizations have repeatedly called on Israel to end its excessive use of administrative detention.
"Israel has used its system of administrative detention � intended as an exceptional measure against people posing an extreme and imminent danger to security � to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades," Ann Harrison, deputy director of Amnesty International, said in a 2012 statement. "It is a relic that should be put out to pasture."
Israel has escalated its use of administrative detention in recent weeks. In October, the administrative detention orders of 38 prisoners were extended, the Palestine News Network reported, citing the Palestinian Prisoners Society. From that total, at least fifteen will remain imprisoned at a minimum of six additional months.
The culture of impunity surrounding Israeli military courts allows administrative detentions to be renewed repeatedly or even indefinitely.
Acknowledging the utter lack of justice for Palestinians accused by Israel, Barghouti nonetheless expressed optimism regarding her husband�s case: "To be honest, I think he has a good chance of being released because so far there�s been no appeal.
"This is the first time I�ve seen Israel�s court acknowledge that Ahmad�s not in prison for security reasons or for PFLP membership, but because he is intelligent and has influence among the people," she said.
Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist whose reporting has appeared at Al Jazeera English, The Electronic Intifada, AlterNet and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter: @P_Strickland_




Allen L Roland


In five years, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama, the agent of hope and change, has become the prince of darkness and his presidency has become a farce ~ an absurdly futile exercise in pretense and broken promises from a president who cloaks himself with drones and armor and who answers only to the corporate global elite.

The cost of occupation in both Iraq and Afghanistan is the silence of moral disillusion and betrayal by a dying Empire ~ for our military has bought into a War on Terror farce which will not go away and continues through this Veterans day in 2013. If you want to get a feel of what American troops go through in Iraq and Afghanistan ~ watch The Hurt Locker and read Steinbeck's The Moon is Down and realize that eventually The Flies will conquer the fly paper in both Iraq and Afghanistan ~ as they most certainly did in Vietnam.
This Veterans day we have over 200,000 homeless veterans on the streets of America; yes 200,000 ~ that is not a misprint. That is a disgrace, a national disgrace and part of the cost of occupation along with national betrayal and dying for lies. Here are the current death and wounded numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Killed In Action: 3/2003 ~ 12/18/2011: 4,818
Wounded total to 12/18/1I: 54,834
Iraqi Civilians Killed: 1,366,350
Killed In Action: 2,285
Wounded Total:18,188
Afghanistan Civilians Killed: 56,250
Here is reporter Ann Jones firsthand, close-up-and-personal look at the impact of our recent wars on America�s unlucky soldiers ~ as she describes the silence of moral disillusion and betrayal; "The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs administered by medics in the field, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody. They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet.
It�s that silence I remember from the time I spent in trauma hospitals among the wounded and the dying and the dead. It was almost as if they had fled their own bodies, abandoning that bloodied flesh upon the gurneys to surgeons ready to have a go at salvation. Later, sometimes much later, they might return to inhabit whatever the doctors had managed to salvage. They might take up those bodies or what was left of them and make them walk again, or run, or even ski. They might dress themselves, get a job, or conceive a child. But what I remember is the first days when they were swept up and dropped into the hospital so deathly still. They were so unlike themselves. Or rather, unlike the American soldiers I had first seen in that country. Then, fired up by 9/11, they moved with the aggressive confidence of men high on their macho training and their own advance publicity." Must read articles : Tomgram: Ann Jones, Silent Soldiers, The Losers From Our Lost Wars

Here's Ann Jones being interviewed by Amy Goodman on The Untold Story of War: U.S. Veterans Face Staggering Epidemic of Unemployment, Trauma & Suicide

Excerpt: Regarding veteran suicide rate which is actually closer to 50 a day when you count veterans who have left the military ~

AMY GOODMAN: "These suicide numbers are astounding. I mean, I think people just have to close their minds; they can�t comprehend: 22 veterans or soldiers a day in the United States take their lives?"
ANN JONES: "And those are soldiers who are still in the military. Those who have already left the military are not counted. And there�s a lot of indication that they may be committing suicide at even greater rates. But to me, the most shocking part of this is that many of those who kill themselves are receiving treatment at the VA, but the treatment they�re receiving is Big Pharma drugs, the opioid painkillers. They�re prescribed not for psychological problems, but for simple body pain. And they�re highly addictive, and they�re very deeply implicated in soldier suicides. I tell the story of one Texas soldier�." Must see 12 minute video
Every dying Empire has its truth telling prophet and America had its own with Chalmers Johnson. Johnson correctly compared the decay of the American empire, with its over 900 overseas military bases, with the fall of the Roman Empire whereas the Senate becomes a wealthy corporate club and irrelevant compared to the ruling Military Industrial Congressional Complex. Read article:
Johnson� s main points were; The United States is treading the same three steps as the former Soviet Union;
  • Inability to deal with corporate corruption.

  • Imperial over-stretch is leading to fiscal insolvency ( 900 plus bases throughout the world )

  • Inability to reform, thus accelerating the inevitable fall.
Chalmers offered the solution but rightfully suspected that it was already too late for America; ( with my inserts )
1. Reform Congress ( Good luck )
2. Reform corrupt election laws ( good luck )
3. Re-division of electoral college ( good luck )
4. Cutback funding of intelligence agencies and department of the defense and take steps to break up the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. ( more good luck )
Chalmers expected considerable resistance but also said that only the truth could avoid the inevitable fall of the American empire ~ as it did in bringing down the Soviet Union.
Thus, only the role of the alternative media and courageous whistle blowers in exposing the truth can rescue a crumbling Republic that has rapidly become a corrupt plutocracy.

It is my opinion, that there is one central truth that can bring down America�s Berlin wall of denial along with the deceit of the War on Terror ~ it�s the big, big lie and America�s greatest act of treason, it�s the rationale for the cloak of secrecy, torture, Guantanamo, Drone assassinations and illegal spying that now erodes our Republic ~ it�s the monstrous lie of 9/11 along with its unchallenged official story.

What started as a War on Terror in Afghanistan has now become the front for an Orwellian never ending War of Terror which is rapidly draining the heart, resources and spirit of America.
The object of this perpetual war, as Orwell describes, is to keep a society or 'Our Way of Life� intact ~ The war in actuality is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society or the global elite status quo intact.
Who can ever forget Tony Blair justifying the Iraq war and occupation as "protecting our way of life"

Tony Blair sporting his Yarmulke and the self-satisfied smirk
of an AIPAC supported war criminal.
The American Killing machine most certainly still exists and now we have Nick Turse�s new book, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam to confirm this obvious truth ~ "No one has ever described the American killing machine in that country the way he has; nor, as he did, tracked down Americans charged with war crimes by the U.S. military in that era, nor tramped through distant rural Vietnam to hear what it felt to be on the other side of massacres or experience the American-imposed "system of suffering" in those years. A decade in the making, it is a book that should reshape in fundamental ways how we remember the Vietnam War."
Afghanistan excerpt: "Untold numbers of Afghans have also died of everything from lack of access to medical care (there are just 2 doctors for every 10,000 Afghans) to exposure, including shocking reports of children freezing to death in refugee camps last winter and again this year. They were among the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been internally displaced during the war. Millions more live as refugees outside the country, mostly in Iran and Pakistan. Of the women who remain in the country, up to 2 million are widows. In addition, there are now an estimated 2 million Afghan orphans. No wonder polling by Gallup this past summer found 96% of Afghans claiming they were either "suffering" or "struggling," and just 4 % just "thriving." See article:
If you really want to know what our troops are going through in illegally occupied Iraq and Afghanistan ~ read John Steinbeck's ' The Moon is Down ' or better yet read Paul Rockwell's poetic and moving commentary ' The Agony of Occupation / The flies have conquered the flypaper ' from Common Dreams .
Excerpt: " It is impossible to read Steinbeck's masterpiece without thinking about our own soldiers in Iraq , about their daily fear, the growing tendency for revenge, the agony of conquest. 'The Moon is Down' is not primarily about the Norwegian people, or even about the resistance. It's about the terror, the self-doubts, the slow transformation of arrogance to self-loathing, under which invaders live... 'The Moon is Down' is not about the violence; it's about the psychology of occupation. Steinbeck focuses on the inability of occupying soldiers to cope with the ingratitude of a "liberated" people. Germans trusted their leaders and expected to be greeted with flowers, not contempt. The public hatred of the occupation, not sabotage alone, destroys German morale ... When a lieutenant is upset by the hostility of the local population, his commander admonishes him: "I will not lie to you, Lieutenant. They should have trained you for this, and not for flower-strewn streets. They should have built your soul with truth, not led you along with lies. But you took the job, Lieutenant. We can't take care of your soul."
The occupiers are not pacified. "Captain, is this place conquered?" "Of course," the captain replies. But the listener cracks. "Conquered and we're afraid, conquered and we're surrounded. The flies have conquered the fly paper ! "
See article:

The War on Terror farce is still with us and will be until the truth prevails.

Allen L Roland
Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and transformational counselor Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private Skype consultations ( ) Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his web log and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on Weblog: Website: ONLY THE TRUTH IS REVOLUTIONARY

IMAP/OSF Report Calls for Investigation of Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees

IMAP/OSF Report Calls for Investigation of Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees

By: Jeff Kaye

Breaking a three-year silence by the medical and human rights community, a panel of doctors, attorneys, human rights professionals, university professors and ethics experts have called for an investigation into the use of mefloquine on detainees at Guantanamo Naval Prison. The prison camp had instituted in very early 2002 an unprecedented policy of administering full-treatment doses of mefloquine to all incoming detainees at Guantanamo.
Mefloquine is an anti-malaria drug that has been very controversial over the years. It has been linked to severe neurological and psychiatric side effects, including depression, suicide, hallucinations, seizures, neurotoxicity as well as adverse and sometimes long-lasting central nervous system problems. The drug was also sold for years under the brand name Lariam in the United States, but Swiss manufacturer Hoffmann�La Roche ceased marketing it in here in August 2009.
The rationale for the Department of Defense policy on mefloquine at Guantanamo � ostensibly to counter a supposed threat of malaria brought in by the newly arriving detainees � underwent a withering analysis in a series of articles I wrote with Jason Leopold (see here, here, and here). At the same time, there was a strongly critical  2010 report by Seton Hall University School of Law�s Center for Policy and Research. This was followed by an article by Dr. Remington Nevin in the October 2012 edition of the medical journal, Tropical Medicine and International Health, entitled "Mass administration of the antimalarial drug meflouqine to Guantanamo detainees: a critical analysis" (PDF).
Nevin, a former Army doctor, concluded "there was no plausible public health indication for the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo," and suggested "the troubling possibility that the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo may have been motivated in part by knowledge of the drug�s adverse effects�."
The call to investigate mefloquine was made in the context of the report�s strong recommendation that President Obama "order a comprehensive investigation of U.S. practices in connection with the detention of suspected terrorists� [including] inquiry into the circumstances, roles, and conduct of health professionals in designing, participating in, and enabling torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in interrogation and confinement settings and why there were few if any known reports by health professionals."
The report, Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the "War on Terror, was released last week by its sponsors, the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) [link to PDF of full report]. IMAP is a major player in the medical ethics field and is funded by a number of foundations, including the Open Society Institute, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., the Selz Foundation, and the The Pew Charitable Trusts. IMAP also plays a central role in funding Columbia University�s Center on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University�s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The bulk of the report described how the CIA and the Department of Defense, with the connivance of the Department of Justice and health professional organizations like the American Psychological Association, changed the rules and procedures surrounding the use of health care professionals in interrogations and national security detention centers such that doctors and psychologists were enlisted in the design, participation and enabling of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.
In an article on November 5 at The Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola looked at the ways doctors and other health professionals participated in unethical forced-feedings of hunger strikers. In a previous look at the report, I noted its call for a new executive order banning certain interrogation techniques currently used in the Army�s field manual on interrogation, which has been falsely sold to the public as "nonabusive."
The Role of Captain Shimkus
While labeling as "highly questionable" and "unexplained" the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo, the IMAP/OSF report did not investigate its use at length because, strangely enough, its task force panel included the former commanding officer at the Guantanamo Naval Hospital and chief surgeon (until summer 2003), Captain Albert Shimkus. Shimkus was the Guantanamo official who signed off on the mefloquine protocol to begin with.
IMAP/OSF report writers realized the dilemma they were in. Here�s what they wrote about it:
Questions have arisen about the unexplained administration of an antimalaria drug with neuropsychiatric side effects to detainees at Guant�namo, including whether there were intelligence or security reasons rather than medical reasons for doing so. As the conduct of a member of the task Force has been questioned on this subject, the task Force does not address the matter here, but urges that the circumstances of the use of mefloquine, including the reasons for choosing it, be addressed as part of the full investigation of medical practices we recommend. [p. 48]
Asked to comment on Shimkus�s inclusion on the IMAP/OSF panel, and on the report�s recommendation on mefloquine, Dr. Nevin replied via email:
"While the recommendations of the Task Force to investigate the highly questionable use of mefloquine among Guantanamo detainees is welcome and long overdue, the Task Force has missed an opportunity to further explore this issue independently owing to the remarkable fact that one of the Task Force�s own members, CAPT (Retired) Albert Shimkus, former commander of the Guantanamo detainee hospital, was critically involved in the formulation and administration of detainee mefloquine policy.
For years CAPT Shimkus has consistently defended the practice by denying any misuse of the drug, including in a report published this year by the Constitution Project. Given the seriousness of allegations of misuse of mefloquine and the reluctance of CAPT Shimkus to acknowledge his role in having facilitated its questionable use, the Task Force should have recused CAPT Shimkus of involvement in their work so that the remaining panel members may have independently investigated this practice themselves, free of overt conflicts of interest. The loss of this opportunity will only further delay obtaining answers to the question of why mefloquine was used, and lessens the value of this report relative to its full potential."
Dr. Nevin�s citation of The Constitution Project (TCP) report on detainee abuse is worth expanding upon, because Captain Shimkus was interviewed at length by TCP report investigators. Here�s how the mefloquine issue was handled in their report, issued earlier this year:
Among Shimkus� continuing critics are some who have suggested he aided interrogators by approving and initiating a regime of prescribing anti-malaria medication for all the detainees, at dosages far higher than those normally used for prevention rather than treatment of malaria. The drug, mefloquine, had side effects that could include paranoia, hallucinations, and depression, theoretically making recipients more vulnerable to interrogation. But Shimkus denied that this was the purpose of the anti-malarial medication, and the allegations that it was prescribed to assist in interrogation are speculative. Shimkus said he agreed with the medical decisions of others, including senior military medical officers, to conduct the medication program, and had consulted with officials at the Centers for Disease Control. He said that no one involved in the interrogation regime had any role in the decision or discussed the matter with him.
According to press reports from February 2002, malaria was far more prevalent in Afghanistan than in Cuba, where it was largely eradicated, and Cuban doctors had raised the issue of malaria prevention in meetings with Shimkus. In 2011, a Pentagon spokesperson told Stars and Stripes that the high doses of medication were appropriate because "[t]he potential of reintroducing the disease to an area that had previously been malaria-free represented a true public health concern. Allowing the disease to spread would have been a public health disaster." [p. 32, link to PDF of full report]
"�certain issues we were advised not to talk about"
Shimkus appears to have gone out of his way to involve himself with investigations into detainee abuse, but his claims in the TCP report that he didn�t notice abuse of Guantanamo detainees because he wasn�t imagining any abuse would be taking place is just plain lame. (Shimkus was also a prominent positively portrayed figure in Karen Greenberg�s book, The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo�s First 100 Days.) His involvement in the mefloquine decision, including his explanations to this author about his motivations and actions, are, as the IMAP/OSF report indicate, matters for a full investigation.
For instance, rather than Shimkus�s claim that no one discussed the mefloquine matter with him, he told me in an interview in 2010 that he was told by unspecified others not to discuss certain aspects of the mefloquine decision.
"There were certain issues we were advised not to talk about," Shimkus told me, explaining the reason the policy was never publicly disclosed (see link).
Shimkus claims that he was worried about a possible "public health disaster." Yet he told me, in a separate interview from that noted just above, that he did not bother to discuss the malaria matter with KBR contract personnel or management when such workers were brought to Guantanamo in later 2002 to work on building Camp Delta, even though those workers mostly came from India and the Philippines, and areas where malaria can be endemic. So far as I was able to investigate, not one of those hundreds of workers could be documented to have taken mefloquine at Guantanamo.
No one knows the reason why mefloquine was mass administered at Guantanamo. Was it just poorly thought out medical policy? Was it covert testing on the side effects of mefloquine, a drug that was under fire at that same time at the Department of Defense (see link)? Was it an attempt to disorient or chemically weaken the detainees upon arrival?
The last question is not so strange when you realize that for years the CIA stockpiled another anti-malaria drug, cinchonine, to use as a chemical "incapacitating agent."
Many I speak to are not hopeful about the chances for a needed investigation. But I think that it would be premature to call over the struggle to fully unmask the torture that took place and get some form of accountability. More likely is that it would be part of, or even help spark a larger social struggle against the national security state and forms of injustice and inequality that plague this society.


Oil Espionage: Targeting OPEC

Oil Espionage: Targeting OPEC

by Stephen Lendman

NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spy globally. It's largely unrelated to protecting national security. 
The only enemies both countries have are ones they invent. Claims otherwise ring hollow.
Spying is for control. It's for economic advantage. It's to be one up on foreign competitors. It's for information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations.
It's longstanding. It's institutionalized. It's lawless. It doesn't matter. It continues undeterred. 
Both agencies invent pretexts to do so. They manufacture fear. They defend the indefensible. Their extrajudicial aggressiveness is breathtaking. 
Invoking terrorist threats don't wash. NSA and GCHQ are extensions of rogue governments. They facilitate lawless practices. They commit plenty of their own.
They don't make the world safer for democracy. They don't enhance stability and security. They add greatly to police state harshness. They commit espionage on a global scale.
On November 11, Der Spiegel headlined "Oil Espionage: How the NSA and GCHQ Spied on OPEC."
Snowden released documents explain. They're the gift that keeps on giving. New revelations follow earlier ones.
NSA and GCHQ "infiltrated" OPEC's computer network. NSA did so in 2008. Information on individual oil exporting companies existed earlier.
Now, "for the first time," NSA an GCHQ "infiltrate(d) OPEC in its entirety." It's comprised of 12 member states.
In alphabetical order, they include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
Gabon and Indonesia are former members. As an Iraqi occupying power, America is a de facto member.
NSA infiltration discovered an OPEC Research Division report. According to Der Spiegel, it said:
"OPEC officials were trying to cast the blame for high oil prices on speculators." 
"A look at files in (their) legal department revealed how the organization was preparing itself for an antitrust suit in the United States." 
"And a review of the section reserved for the OPEC secretary general documented that the Saudis were using underhanded tactics, even within the organization."
Riyadh tried keeping increased oil production secret "as long as possible." Its OPEC governor, Yasser Mufti, chairs OPEC's Board of Governors.
NSA got FISA court authority to target him. Documents showed surveillance stopped when he visited America. 
It resumed when he returned home. NSA monitors his communications. In 2010, agency analysts determined that he released incorrect oil production figures.
According to Der Spiegel:
"The typical 'customers' for such information were the CIA, the US State Department and the Department of Energy, which promptly praised the NSA for confirming what it had suspected for years."
GCHQ targets OPEC's Vienna headquarters. A secret 2010 document says it traditionally had "poor access" to OPEC.
The same year, it infiltrated computers of nine OPEC employees. It did so using the "Quantum Insert" method. It creates a "gateway" into OPEC.
A separate Der Spiegal article headlined "Quantum Spying: GCHQ Used Fake LinkedIn Pages to Target Engineers."
Snowden released information showed computers of targeted candidates were infected with computer malware. It was done using Quantum Insert infiltration technology.
It permits deep infiltration. High-speed servers are used. They're located at key online switching points.
When a target calls a specific web site, servers are activated. Instead of the chosen site, an exact duplicate is supplied. It infiltrates a spy code onto the targeted computers.
It's an extremely sophisticated NSA developed exploitation tool. It comes in various versions. GCHQ used it to penetrate OPEC's Vienna computer network.
Britain's spy agency "wants to turn the mobile web into an all-seeing surveillance machine," said Der Spiegel.
In 2011, GCHQ spies described their "vision" as "Any mobile device, anywhere, anytime!"
Once mobile phone networks are infiltrated, "completely new monitoring possibilities" follow.
GCHQ infiltrators ideally want to turn every mobile phone everywhere to a "bugging device." Doing so "would be game changing," they say.
GCHQ analysts already gained access to two OPEC secret servers. They contain "many documents of interest," they said.
OPEC appears in the National Intelligence Priorities Framework. US intelligence agencies have access to it.
OPEC remains targeted. Fracking and new oil discoveries make America less dependent on foreign supplies. 
OPEC is less of a priority now than earlier. Individual companies are targeted. Brazil's state owned Petrobras is monitored. 
At stake is giving big US oil giants a competitive advantage. Reports indicate Petrobras intends spending around $9.5 billion in the next five years improving security.
President Maria das Gracas Foster announced it, saying:
"This is a policy that is so important it has been personally approved by the board of directors."
"The management of our goods, people, information and the wealth we create is of crucial importance."
At stake is much more than security. Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said Brazil intends requiring all data exchanges based in Brazil to include locally produced equipment.
Doing so will adversely impact major US suppliers. Online companies Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others are affected.
New mandates require internal servers for all data involving Brazilians. Its privacy laws will have to be obeyed.
In mid-September, Brazil and Argentina approved a broader military cooperation agreement. It calls for improved cyber defense capabilities.
Other countries are likely upgrading their own protections. NSA and GCHQ conduct global espionage. 
Intelligence collected is sweeping. It's all embracing. It's economic warfare. It targets virtually everywhere all the time. 
It does so with technological ease. It improves incrementally over time. It does so extrajudicially. It doesn't matter. US and British authorities support it. 
Rogue states operate that way. America seeks unchallenged global dominance. Britain is a willing junior partner. 
Their operations menace freedom. It's the new normal. It's a frightening new world order. It's not one fit to live in.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Protests in Iraq

Protests in Iraq

The Common Ills

FALLUJA demonstration

That's an Iraqi Spring MC photo of today's demonstration in Falluja.  Since December 21st,  ongoing protests have been taking place in Iraq.  Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues) explained the reasons back in February:

Protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following :

- End of Sectarian Shia rule
- the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians)
- the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release
- the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect
- the provision of government services to all
- the end of corruption
- no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis.

The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba,  Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature  i.e unarmed  3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad.

Layla Anwar and Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi are among the few who can publicly note what led to the protests.  The western press likes to reduce it to one event.

Iraqi Spring MC notes protests also took place in Mosul, Samarra, Baiji, Rawah, Tikrit, Ramadi,  The protests are regularly ignored by the western media.  They do have a Tweet this morning:

  • On protests?

    Patrick Cockburn (Independent) can never be bothered with reporting these massive, ongoing citizens protests.  But let oil enter the picture and the 'reporter' is suddenly interested.  Yesterday, he reported:

    Hundreds of foreign workers are being hurriedly evacuated from Basra in southern Iraq following violent protests by Iraqi oil workers and villagers over two incidents.
    In one of them, a British security man tore down a poster or flag bearing the image of Imam Hussein, a figure highly revered by Shia Muslims. The violence may make international oil companies more nervous about operating in Iraq, which is at the centre of the largest oil development boom in the world.

    Oil, oil, oil.  Patrick Cockburn doesn't give a damn blood flowing in Iraq but offer him an oil angle and suddenly he's all horned up.

    Strange, he's covering Basra and oil but can't mention Hassan Juma Awad.   Earlier this week, US Labor Against The War noted:

    USLAW received a brief message from Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, informing us that at a court hearing in Basra today, all charges against him filed by the Ministry of Oil and South Oil Company were dismissed.

    This is the second time criminal charges were thrown out by the court.  After the first dismissal in July, the Ministry of Oil and management of South Oil Company appealed the decision.  The appellate court reinstated the charges and sent the case back to the lower court for another hearing.  That hearing was held today, November 10, 2013.
    In his message, Brother Juma'a thanked U.S. Labor Against the War, Solidarity Center, American, European and other unions and labor federations for support and solidarity, without which he would likely have been convicted and could have been imprisoned for three years and fined huge sums.

    The e-mail address for this site is


    الخميس، 7 نوفمبر 2013

    Iraqi children face poverty, violence, exploitation

    Iraqi children face poverty, violence, exploitation

    Ali Mamouri

    A boy carries an AK-47 rifle at the Chebayesh marsh, Nasiriyah, Feb. 15, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)
    He asks about his mother and his father and says that he wants to go to school. He still has not learned that his parents are gone, which would inevitably cause him an unhealable open wound." This is how a grandfather described the situation of his grandson who is in the hospital after having lost his immediate family except for his younger sister in one of the blasts that rocked Baghdad in October 2013.
    After more than 10 years of continuous terrorism in Iraq, it is nearly impossible to count the number of children with a similar story. A search on YouTube reveals hundreds of videos of children who have lost their loved ones, screaming in pain and crying out in bitterness as a result of the misery they are living in a country where childhood is desecrated. Terrorist groups in Iraq have not excluded children, as numerous attacks have targeted places where children are likely to be present. This was the case in the attack that targeted an elementary school in one of the villages in northwestern Iraq on Oct. 6. This attack claimed the lives of more than a dozen children, while 44 were injured by the blast caused by two car bombs.
    Child victims are not restricted to those killed in bombings or those who have lost their parents; there are other types of threats facing the children of Iraq. They are the primary target of criminal gangs that kidnap children to obtain a ransom from their parents. These children are often killed when their parents are unable to provide the required amounts or due to the kidnappers’ fear of being caught by the police. This is in addition to the increased cases of child rape in Iraq, where in most cases victims are killed after enduring brutal sexual violation. What is even more disturbing is that the child victims in some cases of rape and murder are around the age of five.
    In addition to this, there are an increasing number of homeless children in Iraq. According to statistics, one out of every eight Iraqi children is displaced. They are usually exploited and sent to beg in the streets or to work under harsh conditions and sometimes even used as prostitutes. They are often exposed to physical or sexual abuse, and cases have been reported where they have been exploited to carry out terrorist acts. When children involved in terrorist acts are arrested, Iraqi law does not take into consideration their special situation. They are punished  with sentences similar to those passed on adults, which often entail many years of imprisonment.
    On another note, high rates of child labor in Iraq have been registered and some studies have shown that there are nearly 100,000 children in the Iraqi workforce. Moreover, 83% of Iraqi children have worked for their families on a permanent basis, without receiving any wage. Children usually work under dire and harmful conditions such as in garbage collection, brick and steel factories and farming. However, Article 29.b.3 of the Iraqi Constitution specifies that "economic exploitation of children shall be completely prohibited. The state shall take the necessary measures to protect them." Yet, state institutions are not efficiently combating this phenomenon for many reasons, including the preoccupation by the government with issues of maintaining security and fighting terrorism. The emergence of widespread child labor in Iraq is furthermore an issue of utmost difficulty to deal with. In many cases, children are the breadwinners for their younger siblings and have no one else to rely on.
    The rate of Iraqi children subject to domestic violence is very high. A report issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs revealed that five out of six Iraqi children are exposed to domestic violence across the country. Moreover, the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council examined the draft law on protection from domestic violence. The examination revealed numerous loopholes and defects in Iraqi laws related to the protection of children from violence. This is in addition to the difficulty of applying existing laws under the tribal structure that prevails over the majority of Iraqi society.
    In addition to the lack of legislation and the Iraqi government’s inability to protect children, attempts by some religious parties that participate in the government have added to the miserable situation of children in Iraq. In the latest developments on this issue, the Iraqi Ministry of Justice submitted a draft personal status law based on some religious opinions, by virtue of which it is legally permitted to marry 9-year-old girls and 15-year-old boys. Moreover, according to this law, parents may marry off their girls under the age of 9 and their boys under the age of 15.
    Researchers believe that the rising phenomenon of violence against children in its various forms will lead to several problems within Iraqi society. These include the emergence of distorted generations unable to assume a positive role in their community, continuously increasing levels of illiteracy and ignorance and growing rates of crime, violence and extremism within the community.
    In light of these circumstances, the Iraqi government, having signed the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, must take serious and comprehensive measures to combat this phenomenon in its various forms. The most important measures that should be taken are implementing the law on compulsory education to all children, limiting attempts to legislate religious laws contrary to the interests of childhood, legislating strict laws aimed at holding households, employers and other groups associated with violence against children accountable, boosting the role of civil society to help the government protect children exposed to violence, as well as performing other procedures followed in civilized countries.


    Violence in Iraq sparks new sectarian displacement

    Violence in Iraq sparks new sectarian displacement

    By Ahmed Maher

    The children of the Farouk family are not allowed to play outside their house

    The Farouk family were so frightened that we had to visit their house under cover of night to hear their story.

    They are Sunni Muslims and say they received an ultimatum to leave their house from Shia extremists who have been spreading fear among Sunnis living in the al-Zubair district of the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

    The father showed me a scrap of paper with few words written on one of its corners.

    It was a threat to kill his family if they did not leave the area where he was born 45 years ago.

    "'I don't care if I'm dead or alive. I care about my children," he said. "They could be kidnapped and killed, as has happened with many families."

    "We were displaced then in 2007. We went to Syria as refugees and returned last year. We thought that sectarianism had ended but it seems we had illusions."

    The mother told us that they were taking the threat seriously because they knew of other Sunnis who had been either shot dead or had left Basra for their own safety in recent months.

    She said was so concerned about her children that she had stopped them from going to school or even playing football in front of their house.

    "We won't feel peace of mind until we leave this district," she added.

    Minority fears

    When the sectarian conflict between Iraq's majority Shia community and minority Shia community was at its peak between 2006 and 2007, many people were forced from their homes.

    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that up to two million Iraqi refugees were living in neighbouring countries in March 2007.

    Today, there are more than 1.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs). Most live in Baghdad, Diyala and Nineveh provinces.

    Some 467,000 IDPs, former refugees and squatters remain in more than 382 settlements on public land or in public buildings, enduring harsh living conditions and with limited access to electricity, sanitation, schooling or sufficient job opportunities, according to the UNHCR.

    This year, sectarian violence has once more become routine on the streets of Iraq, with 6,500 civilians killed since January - a death toll not seen since 2008.

    People are again being forced to flee areas where their sect is in the minority.

    In September, the UNHCR said as many as 5,000 Iraqis had fled their homes so far this year, with most fleeing from Baghdad into Anbar and Salah al-Din provinces.

    Traditionally mixed areas like al-Zubair have been most affected, as people leave for religiously homogeneous areas that they believe offer more safety.

    'Horrible times'

    In the predominantly Sunni eastern province of Diyala, it is the Shia population that is being forced out.

    The violence is so fierce that we were refused a permit to travel there, so we asked a local journalist to interview one of the 400 Shia families who officials say have been displaced over the past two months alone.

    Qais and his family left their home in a Sunni area to stay with relatives in a Shia district. They now feel much safer.

    "Sunni extremists blew up my house and other houses in the area. We lost everything and took with us few belongings," he said.

    "Thank God we had just left the house area a few days before the blast."

    Like the Farouk family, it was the second time Qais and his children had been displaced.

    "The first time was in 2006. They were horrible times. I recall when we used to avoid passing by entire Sunni areas where killing on identification was rife."

    The rise in sectarian attacks has made the fear of violence a part of daily live for Iraqis.

    It dictates which market, shop or cafe they can visit, where they can live, and who can be their neighbours.

    They now worry there could soon be another full-blown sectarian conflict


    When Prisons Retaliate: California Inmates Still Paying Price for Demanding Rights

    When Prisons Retaliate: California Inmates Still Paying Price for Demanding Rights

    by Sarah Lazare


    This article originally appeared in Common Dreams.
    "We demand an end to retaliation, and those demands are entwined with continued political organizing work to change the system."
    Four months after California prisoners declared a hunger strike to protest solitary confinement and other abuse, they are still suffering retaliatory punishment at the hands of corrections authorities, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition announced Monday.
    "We demand an end to retaliation, and those demands are entwined with continued political organizing work to change the system," said Isaac Ontiveros, with the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and Critical Resistance, in an interview with Common Dreams. "It is the minimum of human decency to not retaliate against people who participated in the peaceful protest."
    Prisoners who participated in the California-wide prisoner hunger strike, launched July eighth, have been slammed with what are called a "115 write-ups." The penalty accuses the prisoners "of committing a serious rule violation" for participation in the hunger strike, according to a statement from the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.
    The write-ups have serious consequences for inmates who can face years-long extensions of their solitary confinement and denial of parole as a result. "It is something that goes into your record, so that when you are reviewed for whatever reason around parole, moving from one place to another, it affects the nature of your imprisonment," Ontiveros explains.
    "People perceived as supporting the strike, whether refusing meals, refusing work, or supporting the strike with other action faced retaliation," said attorney Caitlin Kelly-Henry in an interview with Common Dreams. "As many as 30,000 people are documented as refusing meals at the time the strike was declared. We don't have numbers of people who refused work. It could be as many as hundreds or thousands of people who faced 115 and other write-ups."
    "The write-ups have serious consequences for inmates."
    The 115 write-ups are part of broad retaliatory measures inflicted against prisoners who participated in the hunger strike, including searching cells, obstructing inmates' communications with the outside world—including lawyers—punishing strikers with more severe solitary confinement, and intimidating inmates to prevent them from appealing the harsh measures. Prisons were also given the green light to force-feed hunger striking prisoners—a move that human rights advocates slammed as a gross violation of human rights.
    Much retaliation is informal, in an environment where prison guards hold staggering power over the lives of inmates. "We've received letters around individual guards or groups of guards targeting people who participated in the strike," explains Ontiveros. "This is highly racialized, with high incidence of targeting of black prisoners who participated in the strike."
    In a legislative hearing last month with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—won by the prisoner hunger strikes and outside support—prison authorities admitted they retaliated against inmates who participated in the hunger strikes, says Ontiveros.
    Supporters of the inmates are demanding that Michael Stainer, Director of the Division of Adult Institutions at CDCR, use his authority to immediately reverse the retaliatory measure.
    Stainer's office did not immediately respond to repeated requests fromCommon Dreams for an interview.
    Ontiveros says that as supporters on the outside demand an end for retaliation, and push for legislative hearings, they also work to "end the CDCR's repression that leads to solitary confinement.
    "This is an important moment to act in very strong solidarity," he added.
    Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

    Officers and soldiers defect from Iraqi army

    Officers and soldiers defect from Iraqi army

    Middle East Monitor

    November 6, 2013

    A number of soldiers and officers in the 12th Division of the Iraqi army, stationed in Kirkuk in the governorate of Ta'mim, have announced their defection from the army.

    The Commander of the first regiment of the 47th Brigade in the 12th Division, Colonel Saad Ibrahim Hassan Al-Azzawi, said that he defected along with more than twenty members of the 12th Division. Those who defected include five officers whose ranks range between lieutenant, captain and major.

    According to Yaqeen news, Al-Azzawi explained that in front of God he bears no responsibility for the current government, which he described as a "militia government". He called on fellow soldiers and officers to defect, so as to stop backing the government in its tyranny.

    Al-Azzawi also remarked that some members of the ruling regime's army feel that they are affiliated to Iran and that orders come to them from Tehran, not from Baghdad.